By Alan Carasso
Eclipse Award winner Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) makes his first start for trainer Bob Baffert and first since the federal indictment of former trainer Jason Servis in Saturday’s rescheduled GII San Diego H. at Del Mar.
The homebred was a two-time Grade I winner during his championship campaign in 2019, taking the GI Florida Derby and GI Haskell Invitational S. around his disqualification from an apparent victory in the GI Kentucky Derby. He proved his versatility and did what no other horse of his generation could at the tail end of the campaign, defeating elders in the GIII Bold Ruler H. over seven furlongs and the GI Cigar Mile H. last December. Connections elected to pass on the GI Pegasus World Cup in favor of the inaugural $20-million Saudi Cup Feb. 29, where he gamely held off Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute). With regular rider Luis Saez unable to leave Saratoga, Maximum Security–the 127-pound highweight–gets the services of Abel Cedillo.
Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro) is in receipt of five pounds from the favorite and looks to take his record to a perfect two-for-two at Del Mar. After fetching $250,000 from Hronis Racing during the horses-of-racing-age section of the 2019 Keeneland April sale, the bay romped in the GI Pacific Classic before rounding out the triple in the GI Awesome Again S. and the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic. Racing without Lasix as the 14-5 chalk in the Pegasus, he finished a tailed-off 10th, but bounced back with a strong runner-up effort to ‘TDN Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip) in the June 6 GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita.
Combatant (Scat Daddy) won four races and was multiple graded-placed for Steve Asmussen and Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton before being acquired by Hronis for $220,000 at KEENOV last fall. Third to Midcourt (Midnight Lute) in the GII San Pasqul S. Feb. 1, he was the narrow winner of the GI Santa Anita H. Mar. 7 and a latest 10th in the GII Oaklawn H. He is cross-entered for Sunday’s GII Eddie Read S. on the turf.